Medicine Shields of the Blackfoot
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Image Size: 23 x 22
Edition Size: 650
Among the Blackfoot people the shield was the most cherished and protective possession. Above all, it was a medicine object. Medicine shields have dream or vision origins. Making a shield could be a lengthy process involving several people, but it had to start with the hide taken from the neck and shoulder of a bull buffalo. Once the hair was removed, this thick hide was then placed over a fire pit filled with hot stones and staked to the ground. The heat of the stones would gradually shrink the hide until it was about one inch thick. It was then painted and decorated to conform with the owner’s dream. When the shield was not carried by the owner on a war party, it was supported on a tri-pod outside the teepee on sunny days, and as the sun moved, the tri-pod was turned so that the face of the shield would always be in direct sunlight.